HSM 9mm 124 gr XTP gel test and review

Buy it at Ventura Munitions: https://www.venturamunitions.com/hsm-9mm-124gr-xtp-subsonic-ammo-50-rounds/

We fired HSM’s loading of 9mm Hornady 124 gr XTP jacketed hollow point from a Smith & Wesson Model 6906 into ClearBallistics clear ballistic gel both with and without four layers of denim to simulate heavy clothing for the purpose of assessing penetration, expansion, and weight retention. Results were mixed.

Here is the raw data:

Bare gel:
Velocity: 1,077 fps, Chronograph error
Retained weight: 115.7 gr
Max expansion: 0.504″
Min expansion: 0.442″
Velocity: 1,135 fps, 1,144 fps
Penetration: 25.6″
Retained weight: 124.0 gr
Max expansion: 0.453″
Min expansion: 0.379″

So as it turns out, two of the bullets left the gel blocks but of the two that were recovered, the one fired through heavy clothing expanded very little. While it did technically expand, in practical terms this was a failure. This load might not be the best choice for personal defense and the dramatic range of velocities means it probably isn’t exactly match ammunition. Then there is the fact that it managed to induce a failure to feed in a pistol that has never seen a stoppage in thousands of rounds of mostly hand cast reloads. To be fair, some pistols are just finicky about the shape of the bullet, but I did check COAL and it was precisely the same as the 124 gr Speer Gold Dot that is the usual carry load in that gun. It definitely underscores the fact that you need to test ammunition for function before depending on it for carry.

So what is this ammo good for? Aside from turning money into noise or skipping beer cans around, that is. If it functions better in your pistol than it did in my friend’s, the deep penetration and moderate expansion make it an obvious choice for woods defense. And if you carry a compact 9mm pistol in places where you may look tasty to critters. In sparser populated areas, that penetration poses little risk to innocent people and deep penetration is important for large animal defense. It also might not be a bad choice to stock a fair amount of it for a rainy day. The price makes it attractive to buy in bulk and, while the performance may not be as good as other loads, it is still better than FMJ.

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Transcript ….

[coming soon]


Andrew is a combat veteran of OEF and has performed hundreds of ballistic tests for his YouTube channel, The Chopping Block (https://www.youtube.com/user/chopinbloc). He is an avid firearm collector and competitor and lives with his family in Arizona. If you have any questions, you may email him at choppingblocktests@gmail.com


  • No one

    You generally need to run XTPs pretty hot (+P or +P+) to get optimal performance from them in my experience. This could have something to do with the fact they were designed to be sort of a multi purpose bullet for defense against both human attackers and against animals/hunting (seriously, It’s in the product description.)

    They really shine at higher velocities, but sort of fall flat at lower ones.

    • No one

      I should reiterate and add context, run them hot to perform well in human targets, against attacking animals you generally do want to make sure they’d penetrate deeper than usual to reach deep enough to hit internal organs which, considering most beasts are on 4 legs, makes it more difficult to get a good shot at their internals consistently.

      • valorius

        Against animals for trail defense i think you’re much better off with a flat nose hard cast lead or TMJ round.

        • No one

          Flat nosed hard cast lead projectiles don’t exactly get along very well with semi autos which more and more people are carrying as hunting emergency guns.

          Flat Nosed TMJs maybe, but TMJs don’t really run ideally against men, the XTP is sort of designed to be some weird multi purpose round that can do anything from being loaded into hotter defensive rounds all the way up to handling much higher stresses of things like .454 Casull or other really hot revolver magnums or revolver magnums fired out of rifle length barrels for hunters. (Seriously, Hornady actually loads this, check their website and product listings.)

          • valorius

            I’ve never owned a modern semi that didn’t work well with flat nose rounds. A hollowpoint is essentially a flat nose with a hole in it.

            The XTP is definitely well known for it’s toughness and limited expansion, you’re right about that.

          • No one

            For the record, I meant to word it differently, I didn’t mean flat noses themselves were a problem, unjacketed projectiles in a semi auto on the other hand are.

            I really wouldn’t want to run unjacketed bullet bullets through any of my modern semi autos as I clean them enough already (very thoroughly at that), that would make it extra annoying however.

          • Phil Elliott

            Key descriptive words from Valorious are “Hard Cast”, with which you will have little to no leading, currently running a 325 gr. .45 bullet at 1325 fps. in my Ruger Bisley, no leading at all!

  • Flounder

    Andrew… Can you just give us a recommendation based on your testing?

    Or tell us why you always dance around a recommendation like it is the plague. You always say there are better options, but you never specify. It would be nice if you gave a us a sparknotes video for each caliber.

    • valorius

      Underweed 9mm+P+ 115 gr gold dot is a better option, if you were really asking for one. So is underwood 9mm+P+ 115gr barnes SCHP.

      • Flounder

        +P+ is cheating… unless that is a bullet name. You can make all kinds of bullets do crazy things. But he specifically calls out velocity and implies there are better bullets that work within the proper SAAMI range. And i want it to work out of a compact and a subcompact. Something he used in the video.

        I am trying to make sense of how useful/scientific these videos are.

        And Yes i was looking for something for my 9’s. Or at least a starting point for me to form my own opinion on.

        • Kelly Jackson

          Speer Gold Dot for short barrels

        • valorius

          Cheating, schmeeting, as long as it works. 9mm+P+ turns the caliber into .357 magnum lite, but with as much as 300% more capacity.

        • Marc

          Federal HST

        • No one

          Like stated above, I use Winchester PDX1 Defender 124gr +P and Hornady Critical Duty 135gr +P (note, don’t confuse it with critical defense which…. I don’t know why they still make it after introducing Duty.)

          Honestly though, handguns are mediocre at actually stopping an attacker and, while some hollow points are arguably better for self defense, most will generally perform well enough that the difference isn’t that big of a deal because of the first point made….which is that handguns generally don’t perform so hot against attackers.

          My real advice would to pick up a decent AR-15 and some Mk 318 rounds (Federal sells Lake City overruns under their own brand name) and be much more assured your first 1 or 2 shots are going to drop an attacker like a sack of bricks. (their barrier blind ability also helps in the event they try to take cover behind things like appliances or furniture after being seen to “safely” fire back at you.)

  • valorius

    The 6906 is a fantastic pistol. You can get a good used 6906 for about the same price as a new hi point 9mm.

  • No one

    For the record, there’s 2 actual pistols kept loaded on our nightstand, defensive loadings I use most often are Winchester PDX1 Defender 124gr +P and Hornady Critical Duty 135gr +P (note, don’t ever confuse critical duty with critical defense, defense is far worse for basically everything.) and feel perfectly confident with those.

    The other gun is simply loaded with 5.7mm hot as —- EA ProtecTOR II, though this is most my wife’s gun.

    though, I don’t even get why I’d keep a pistol on my nightstand, if I have someone inside my house, I’m simply taking my 16″ barreled LMT SLK8 with the MK. 318 magazines loaded.

  • adverse4

    Even with ad blocker this site has become nothing but nagware. Thank You, I can do without it. And, no I do not want to sign up for your newsletter.

  • Pandaz3

    This test was doomed from the start, but at least they got a honest review. I expect the concept was partially for a suppressor friendly round that could do all things, I have the same bullet, 124 grain XTP, but in a harder charging 357 Sig, Underwood +P works fine there
    I use a lot of flat meplat bullets in 40, seems like they are the rage for that caliber, other than JHP, it seems to be all that’s on the shelf.

    • No one

      Flat points tend to penetrate slightly better against certain materials including flesh than round nose, they also have the effect where they tend to crush and destroy tissue they pass through as opposed to simply forcing it aside with almost no damage like a round nose typically will.

      It’s not a *massive* difference, but any positive difference is a good thing as long as you don’t have to go out of your way to do it.

      • No one

        *Flat noses, was thinking of the term hollow pointss and mixed them together while typing….whoops.